In today’s episode, we hear from women about the shame they’ve internalized around their cannabis consumption — even though it has improved their well-being tremendously. Listening to stories like this, or sharing your own, helps chip away at the decades-old social perception and stigma surrounding weed and the people who consume it. Today, five states have the choice to make adult-use cannabis consumption legal, which would be an incredible step towards eradicating the stigma. We hope you enjoy this episode and feel inspired to use your voice (or your vote!) to support the future of cannabis.
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.
Christine De La Rosa:
For the longest time, I didn’t try cannabis because I come from a Mexican Catholic household and I said, “You know, mom, you told me when I was growing up like don’t smoke marijuana because they’re going to think you’re a lazy Mexican.” I said, “So I’ve decided to go into the cannabis business.” I didn’t even finish this sentence and my mother said in Spanish, I’ll translate for you, she was like, “Why are you always shaming the family?”
Welcome to How to Do the Pot, a podcast demystifying cannabis for women. I’m Ellen Scanlon.
Today’s episode is specially timed to help you feel prepared for the November 2022 elections. I hope that wherever you live, you’re registered to vote and it especially matters if you care about the future of cannabis legalization in the US. Today’s episode was released on November 8th, 2022. If you’re listening today, it is Election Day in the US and cannabis is on the ballot in five states for adult use or recreational cannabis, which means it will be legal for anyone over 21. The states are North Dakota and South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, and Maryland. All of these states already allow legal medical cannabis. I’ll link to an article with all the details of the many ballot measures so you can check it out if you live in one of these states. Please share this episode with any friends or family who live in those states.
In the 2020 election, every state with cannabis on the ballot passed. It created a lot of momentum for the plant and the industry. There are 19 states right now with legal adult use cannabis. If some or all of these states pass, you’re getting really close to half of the country with legal cannabis. What is driving legalization in 2022? I think it’s jobs and tax revenue. Currently, nearly half a million people work in legal weed, 428,000 people. It’s one of the fastest growing industries nationwide. There are three times as many cannabis workers as there are dentists in the US. If you know a dentist, most likely you know someone working in weed. Then there’s the money. Since 2014, legal states have brought in more than $10 billion in tax revenue. The value of the legal cannabis market is more than $18 billion with nearly three times that number expected in a few short years. This election is a real opportunity to continue to normalize cannabis for health, wellbeing, and for fun. I hope that you will exercise your rights and get out and vote.
Today’s episode talks about cannabis from a more personal place and gets into why there is still stigma, especially for women around consuming cannabis. At the start of the episode, you heard from Christine De La Rosa, the CEO of The People’s Ecosystem. Before she started consuming cannabis to treat the autoimmune disease lupus, Christine had to overcome the stigma surrounding it that she had internalized when she was growing up. I hear stories like this from a lot of women and the result is that women often don’t seek cannabis as a medical treatment when it might be able to help them.
Christine De La Rosa:
What I would tell other people that come from deeply religious backgrounds, that come from deeply conservative areas is to really just talk honestly with your people, whether it’s your family or your friends, and explain to them why you’re using it. If you say, “I want to use it because I’m a recreational pot smoker,” you’ll also tell them that. There’s nothing wrong with this. We’ve been told that there was something wrong. There was a set of propaganda that was put forth to say it’s wrong, but it’s actually not wrong. I always say to people, “I really don’t think there’s an adult use market. I think there really is a medical market that they’re calling adult use because I have very rarely met anybody that uses cannabis for nothing except to get high. They’re usually treating something.”
In this episode, we’ll turn our attention to women who purchase their weed in the adult use cannabis market, sometimes known as recreational. I don’t really like the term recreational because I don’t think it’s very clear. Often when people hear it, they think just for fun. Yes, cannabis is fun, but it’s also often soothing stress, helping with pain or just bringing a bit of joy to a long day. I feel better after I give my son a big hug or cuddle with him while we’re reading. It really lifts my mood, helps me to be present and feel very grateful. That seems like pretty good medicine to me, and I think many women look to cannabis for those types of benefits, the ones that improve your wellbeing.
I also want to talk about the science. For longtime listeners, this will be a refresher. All of our bodies have something called an endocannabinoid system. This system regulates a lot of important functions in your body, all with the goal of creating balance. To explain it really clearly, I’m going to read you a quick excerpt from an article that was published in the Medical Journal Cerebrum in 2013. Stick with me. It helps explain why the system is so crucial to understand. I’m quoting. “The endocannabinoid system is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body, in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. With their complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind.”
Endocannabinoids are really important to our body’s wellbeing. The science behind cannabis is growing, but it’s still limited because cannabis is illegal at the federal level. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, which is confusing because there are FDA approved drugs that contain cannabis. With that Schedule I designation, it actually is saying that there’s no medical benefit and a high likelihood of abuse. There are more credible studies that suggest that cannabis can improve all kinds of physical and mental conditions, whether they appear on state’s list of approved uses or not. Now that we’ve covered some of the science, let’s hear stories from the many women we’ve talked to who have found a greater sense of wellbeing and a deeper connection to their bodies with cannabis. This is true for Ariana Newton, the Montana-based business relations and operations executive of weedtube.com. Besides treating her insomnia, cannabis has helped her get to know herself.
It was really cool for me when I did start to consume and realize that it was helping me along this healing journey of personal growth, but also just physically too as a woman, being able to combat some of those aches and pains that you just go through.
For many women, cannabis is especially helpful for stress. Since the pandemic, women are experiencing stress at higher rates than ever. Dr. June Chin, an integrative cannabis physician based in New York, says she sees it in her patients all the time.
Dr. June Chin:
I have a lot of patients that get the racing heart feeling. They start thinking about something or it’s a lot of patients have PTSD from Covid. Whatever it is, something gets triggered, patients are getting panic attacks and they’re using cannabis, fast-acting cannabis, so usually in an inhaled form, they might use a spray or a fast dissolving mint tablet to help calm their system quickly. Because a lot of patients are already on Xanax, and they’ll use it for those panic attacks that need to calm down. But I tell them to try and switch to a cannabis and help them wean off of Xanax.
This probably won’t come as much of a surprise. We are big podcast fans. So much so that we started the How to Do the Pot podcast club, where every so often we share our new podcast finds that we think you will like too. If you want to put a podcast on our radar, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can DM us at Do the Pot.
Today’s pick About a Girl is one of my new favorites. It’s really fun and shares the frequently undertold stories of the women who played pivotal roles in creating legends and legacies of popular music. You know about Bob Dylan, but you may not know about his secret marriage to Carolyn Dennis, his backup singer and creative collaborator who helped keep their relationship and their daughter private. You definitely know about Jimmy Hendricks, but have you heard the story of Linda Keith who broke the heart of her boyfriend, Keith Richards leaving him in order to help expose Jimmy’s genius to the world. Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, Tina Marie and Rick James. I really love the episode about Faith Evans and Notorious BIG.
Here, these stories and more on the new season of About a Girl, out now wherever you get your podcasts.
Many women have found cannabis to be an effective alternative to prescription meds. Dr. Chin recommends it to her patients as a way to manage stress, which also helps them manage their relationships.
Dr. June Chin:
As for me, as a mother and as a physician, it comes back to intent and how you use cannabis as medicine. If I’m nauseated or if I’m in pain and I have a two year old who’s going crazy and making me so irritable that I’m yelling at the kids, I’m yelling at my partner. If taking a puff, if microdosing relaxes me and makes me nicer and makes me more present, than sure I’d use it and I tell my patients the same thing.
Besides stress and anxiety, there’s another chronic mental health condition where cannabis is showing a lot of promise. Here’s Christine De La Rosa again.
Christine De La Rosa:
I’ll tell you this really interesting story. We’re at the dispensary and there were these young kids, like 21, 22, and they would come in and everybody in Oakland calls me Miss Chris. They’d be like, “Miss Chris, Miss Chris, Miss Chris, what you got that has the highest THC. I want to get totally effed up.” I’d be like, “Okay.” I said, “Well, here’s a dab, and it has 78% THC. This is definitely going to do what you need it to do in terms of you just want to get effed up, right?” I said, “But I want you to come back and talk to me. I want you to understand why you feel you need to be that high.”
The kids Christine is describing may seem hard to relate to, but when they came back, Christine found out there was a lot more to the story. These kids were self-medicating for depression and PTSD.
Christine De La Rosa:
Invariably, they would come back and tell me the story and it was different things. Someone was like, “I lost my dad when I was eight. My best friend got shot in front of me. Something terrible happened to me in my household.” It was always there was a reason. That’s when the advocacy for me really kicked in, that once you could destigmatize it for black and brown people and say, “You’re not a drug dealer, you’re not a lazy Mexican, you’re actually a healer.”
Kia Baker, the host of the Female Veteran’s Podcast, believes that cannabis can be a life saving intervention for PTSD. She served in the military herself and now helps other women veterans who are struggling.
They say there’s 22 a day that commit suicide, veterans, but we know that there’s more. It’s a frightening and horrifying trend really. If you come to me and you said to me, “Hey, listen, I am thinking about dying so I heard that smoking this joint could take away the pain. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m going to try it.” I would say smoke the joint. That’s essentially what I do with my female veterans. I say, “Hey, listen. Here’s an expert. You don’t have to take my word for it. I’m going to just present you an option and you can do some independent study on your own and decide because if you’re in pain and you’re thinking that there’s nothing to help you and there’s no other way, then try this.”
Stories like these make it pretty clear that cannabis can improve the lives of adult consumers in all kinds of important ways. But the adult use market also has its complications. In episode 106, we heard from Kelsey Ledezma about the ways cannabis helps her manage the chronic pain she deals with every day from a chemotherapy-related spinal cord injury. Something she said about the adult use market really struck me.
Making cannabis as legal as it is has definitely felt like I’ve been forgotten about with what I need from it. I think that’s important.
Since adult use cannabis became legal in her home state of California, Kelsey has seen big changes.
I would love personally to see more representation of disabled people in shops. I would love to be able to go into a shop and talk to somebody one on one about what I experience and what they’ve experienced with what’s there. I’ve never seen that. I have never ever seen that. It pains me to say that if it came back around to do it again, would I vote for recreational cannabis? I wouldn’t because it’s taken things from me because I was pushed to the side and recreation came through and it’s the money maker.
I hope that learning about the many adult uses of cannabis has been helpful. If you’re taking to heart what you’ve heard, please consider Kelsey’s story as well. Keep it in mind as votes come up in your state, as you pay attention to lawmakers, and as the cannabis market evolves where you live because while so many of us are so grateful for the accessibility an adult use state brings, let’s also try to make it a market where everyone feels welcome.
If you’ve been dealing with any complicated emotions about consuming cannabis, I hope this episode has cleared the path for you to find your own relationship with the plant. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com. That’s also where you can sign up for our newsletter. For sneak peaks behind the scenes, please follow us on socials at Do the Pot. If you like How to Do the Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It really helps more people find the show. Thanks to our producers, Madi Fair and Nick Patri and our writer Anna Williams. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and we’ll be back soon with more of How to Do the Pot.